Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

RATING: 9/10


Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.


“Because survival is insufficient”

Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic / dystopian novel which is a great read during the occurrence of the COVID19 global pandemic. Station Eleven is not like the usual dystopian novels which describe an imaginary society. The story revolves around the events happening before and after a global pandemic called the “Georgia Flu” which eventually wiped out most of the population. Instead of moving forwards, the world is actually moving backwards as after the pandemic, there is no electricity, no Internet, no transport, no infrastructure, no technology and etc. The survivors are basically reminiscing the events of the “old days”. This is a very creative and thought provoking concept as the “old days” here refers to the days where the technology is advanced and to an extent, a Museum of Civilization was created to remember or preserve the knowledge of the “old days”. With what is going on right now, I don’t think the world in Station Eleven is an imaginary world, but rather, a pressing issue that mankind has to face. It’s time to rethink our lives and prevent ourselves from being trapped in the claws of modernization because, survival is insufficient.

The story was told in a few points of view of the characters, which initially seem fragmented but as the story goes, the author brilliantly ties up the relationship of these characters. The author further instills the importance of art, even after the occurrence of the pandemic by introducing the Travelling Symphony which performs music and Shakespeare plays. The author also raises the issue of religious persecution by introducing the Prophet and his cult which believes that the pandemic happens for a reason and it brought light to humanity as those who survived the pandemic are angels chosen by God.

Mandel’s writing style is what I would categorized as an elegant writing style. Although Station Eleven is a slow read and not action packed, I assure you that it will give you a lot of food for thought. A strong 9/10 star rating from me!

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